North Georgia has one of the healthiest eastern hellbender populations in North America. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division began a long-term survey and monitoring project of the large salamanders this year.
Using nets, sometimes snorkeling, the research team surveyed stream segments in four watersheds this season, ending last month. The hellbenders found were weighed, measured, swabbed amphibian diseases, sampled for DNA and tagged with Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT).
The purpose of the study is to establish baseline data for the species in the state.
Like the Ozark hellbender, which was listed as federally endangered last month, the eastern hellbender has experienced sharp population declines. It is state-listed as threatened in Georgia and has already disappeared from eight streams where it was once found in the state.
The eastern hellbender is found in 12 states ranging from southern New York to northern Mississippi, with a western population in Missouri.
Get all the details in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources press release, here.
Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Boat & Fish Commission